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Gaza: Israel under fire for alleged white phosphorus use

On Tuesday, the Israeli army denied using white phosphorus munitions. A Norwegian doctor claims Israel is using Gaza as a 'test laboratory for new weapons,' including Dense Inert Metal Explosives, or DIME.

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While the phosphorus explosives are widely condemned for raining down indiscriminate harm, questions have also arisen about the possible use of another weapon called Dense Inert Metal Explosives, or DIME, that was created by the US Air Force. DIME is designed to be used in crowded urban areas since the weapons are highly lethal but have an extremely limited range of explosive force that can reduce collateral damage.

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Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, who worked in Gaza's main Shifa hospital during the first weeks of the conflict, and who spoke to media in Egypt and Norway in recent days, is the main source for allegations of DIME use.

"This is a new generation of very powerful small explosive that detonates with extreme power and dissipates its power within a range of five to 10 meters," he told reporters. "There is a very strong suspicion I think that Gaza is now being used as a test laboratory for new weapons."

Al Jazeera, which has reporters in Gaza, has described hospital cases that appear to conform to the clean tearing of limbs that DIME can cause.

Italian scientists from the New Weapons Research Committee, which examines emerging military technology, said in a statement that "evidence is mounting" of DIME usage, saying the wounds may be "untreatable" due to metals like tungsten that enter the body. DIME is packed with tungsten dust that forms micro-shrapnel upon detonation.

Paola Manduca, a geneticist at the University of Genoa, says she has seen "four photos from Gaza hospitals since December that look like the effects of DIME. We want to stress as professionals that we need to be able to verify what is happening, and we can't do that if Gaza is blocked."

But Israeli experts deny any such usage of DIME by the IDF in Gaza. Shlomo Brom, former brigadier general who consulted international legal experts on weapons use as head of the IDF's Strategic Planning division, derided human rights groups' allegations on white phosphorus and DIME as political propaganda.

"The weapons itself are not illegal. Whether they are used in keeping with international law is a matter of interpretation. To judge you need all of the operational considerations and intelligence available. Of course, they don't have it, so they are playing a very irresponsible role," he says.

During the Lebanon war in 2006, Israel was suspected of employing depleted uranium munitions as well as DIME. The Israeli military has also used cluster bombs and phosphorous munitions in its previous battles in Lebanon.

It was heavily criticized by human rights groups for firing both kinds of munitions into the densely populated streets of west Beirut during the siege of the city in the summer of 1982.